By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
OAKLAND – Here are some final thoughts on the Browns’ 20-17 victory against the Raiders at O.co Coliseum:
>>This was a game of major accomplishments. The biggest was winning back-to-back games. That instills confidence in the entire team that it can have sustained success. It was a huge goal, and now it has been achieved. The other big accomplishment was snapping a 12-game road losing streak. The many rookies on the team weren’t part of that dubious distinction, but they understand how important it was to put it to rest. And doing so here is no easy task, regardless of the Raiders’ 3-9 record. Also, the Raiders did not allow their four-game losing streak entering the game to prevent them from giving a strong effort.
>>The Browns have a chance to build some momentum down the stretch. They face the Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins in back-to-back games at home, where they have won three games this season. Confidence is a huge factor the rest of the way, especially with the final two games on the road (Denver and Pittsburgh), and the Browns have plenty of it now. Probably more than they’ve had at any point this season.
>>Brandon Weeden made a huge step in his development by leading the 94-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown, which came on a three-yard run by Trent Richardson. Weeden showed his ability to overcome adversity, which came in the form of two interceptions and three passes being batted down at the line of scrimmage. He kept his cool and methodically led the Browns downfield. Having been cleared to play after suffering a concussion in last week’s win against Pittsburgh, Weeden showed no hesitation on back-to-back keepers during the march. After being stuffed for no gain on third-and-one, he made a huge push (with the help of his linemen) on fourth down.
>>Sheldon Brown made one of the biggest plays of the game with his interception that set up the Browns’ game-winning drive. The Raiders’ passing game frequently targeted the veteran cornerback, and he responded by repeatedly knocking down passes and ultimately forcing the decisive turnover. Time after time, Brown has shown that, despite being 33 and an 11-year veteran, he is more than capable of difference-making plays.
>>Pat Shurmur was aggressive with his play-calling, twice going for it on fourth down with success. He took the approach that the team was on the road and had been demonstrating the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air. Overall, the Browns put together an excellent game plan that took advantage of holes in the Raiders’ coverage. Browns receivers were consistently wide open.
>>Weeden threw the ball well most of the game, breaking his previous Browns rookie record with 364 passing yards. His 44-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon, who shared the Browns’ lead with six receptions for 116 yards, was perfectly placed as the rookie receiver got behind the defender and made the catch in stride. Weeden also had a nice connection with Mohamed Massaquoi for 54 yards. Weeden is steadily reading coverages better and making good decisions with the ball. Big plays are back in the Browns’ passing attack, which had been producing them more consistently earlier in the season.
>>Benjamin Watson continues to be a dynamic force in the Browns’ offense. He had a share of the team lead with six catches for 80 yards, and consistently found seams in the Raiders’ secondary. Watson isn’t just making the easy grabs, either. He is showing superb athleticism and his usual toughness on many plays.
>>The Browns’ offensive line had yet another strong performance. It gave up only one sack and generally kept Weeden from getting hit the whole game. Its greatest effort came on the game-winning touchdown drive when it provided Weeden room to operate and also opened holes for Trent Richardson, culminating with the big push for his three-yard touchdown run with 3:27 left in the game.
>>Richardson had one of his better rushing games, generating 72 yards on 20 carries for an average of 3.6 yards per rush. He ran with his usual toughness, and clearly enjoyed churning through the mud on a field soaked by a few days of steady rain.
>>Apparently, Phil Dawson is human after all. He had a 28-yard field-goal attempt partially blocked just enough to send it wide left. But Dawson was money on tries of 41 and 35 yards. He still rose to the occasion while sharing the field with another of the NFL’s outstanding kickers, Sebastian Janikowski, who hit from 51 yards.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 855-363-2459.
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